So to the point of my blog entry. What about this game makes it so attractive to so many fans. It always sells extremely well, and there is clearly a huge fan community begging for any information on new Halo titles, books, comics, film, etc. I realize that for different people there are different reasons for playing a game, and certainly I think Halo has plenty of reasons that would attract people to it. Just a brief evaluation of the franchise presents a deep sci fi story that spans an entire universe, as well as an expansive history of this universe being fleshed out in books. Arguably this story is in good company with some of sci fi's classic space operas. The multiplayer draws in a huge crowd on its own, as my discussions in line at midnight release events have revealed. Components like ForgeWorld for level designing may not always sell the game, but have been an exciting addition for a number of my friends (and I've found opportunity to use it in sessions with clients as well).
I can only speak to myself, so what's so special to me? The big draw for me is the individual aspects of the story. Halo provides a huge universe to explore, but the depth of the relationships are the most compelling to me. I particularly love the central story between Master Chief and Cortana, but even seeing interactions play out between the Chief and Lasky, for example, or Sergeant Forge and Professor Anders from Halo Wars. The sacrifices these people make for one another are inspiring. In a game that is mostly known for its combat (and there is plenty of that), questions about who we are as people, and what we mean to one another arise in almost every scene. I believe that it's common for we humans to be attracted to interpersonal relationships.
As I'm preparing my class for this semester, I'm re-organizing some lectures around Erik Erikson's Psycho Social Stages of Development. I've always found these stages to be an important area of focus when doing everything from teaching to completing psych assessments. Erikson observed that the best way to understand developmental context was to observe what tasks a person was accomplishing from a "social" context. According to this theory, if we weren't able to navigate a developmental stage correctly, we would see an impact in our social interactions. We would then likely have to come back to that stage, and have to rectify our struggle in order to move on in a healthy way. So, according to Erikson, it wasn't enough to understand a person based on their own experience, but that relationships (or how we interacted with others) were so important to our development, that we could assess proper or abnormal functioning based on this context.
Relating to this, I recently read an article that questioned whether or not stories in games should still exist or if we should be moving to a strictly multiplayer world. The responses in the article seemed to be affirming that stories in games need to stay. I agree with this argument, and would add that I would be disappointed if we moved away from interactive storytelling. Though I love multiplayer gaming, a huge part of my draw to a game is being able to experience a story. As I'm describing above, to be able to be a part of those fictional relationships, and learn more about the characters I'm playing is a fundamental part of this interactive media. From my perspective I'm not just reading about Captain "Soap" (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series), I'm experiencing his story. When I'm adventuring in Rome as Ezio (Assassin's Creed Series) it's not just an experience of learning about him, but also his experience becomes a part of my experience. And, for me, most importantly, when Master Chief is saving the galaxy with Cortana, that's my experience too. I know I've talked to a number of peers, and one of my favorite points of dialogue is sharing my experience with these interactive stories. There's a depth of feeling that I usually find that goes much deeper than talking about a movie or a book (no offense to either of those mediums).
I would wonder if any readers of the blog have any favorite character relationships, or experiences that draw them to their favorite games/characters. Please share in the comments, or on Facebook or Twitter.